From: Richard Brodie (email@example.com)
Date: Mon 19 May 2003 - 01:17:20 GMT
As I post here from time to time and as I tried to make clear in VIRUS OF
THE MIND, there are many candidates for cultural replicators. Since I was
writing the first book on memetics, I used "meme" as Dawkins did in THE
EXTENDED PHENOTYPE and Dennett did in his writing to refer to replicators
that were pieces of information in the mind. Some people used "meme"
casually to refer to any element of culture. I don't suppose the definition
matters that much and it's probably too late to put the genie back in the
bottle since it is so confused now.
It's a fresh and original thought worthy of examination to look at
performances as replicators. I didn't think of this, mostly because
performances don't have much persistence and therefore have limited
opportunity to replicate, but there's no reason it couldn't be studied.
Artifacts can certainly be considered replicators. For example, the
existence of the Eiffel Tower probably causes people to create replicas of
it and probably would even if the human race were wiped out and Paris
repopulated by people with no memory of our history. I don't call these
artifacts memes out of respect for Dawkins/Dennett, but there's no reason
The most interesting replicators to me are the complex ones I labeled mind
viruses: religions, chain letters, pyramid schemes and so on. I wouldn't
call these memes because they are complex bundles of memories, artifacts,
and performances. But they can fruitfully be looked at as replicators
I don't understand why anyone would say memories can't be memes. The
statement doesn't even make sense to me. A definition can't be wrong. At
worst, you could say the study of mental replicators is useless. I don't
happen to think it is, but then again I'm not a researcher. But this
constant diatribe against "memesinthemid" makes no sense to me. Not that I
think it's wrong, just that I don't even understand the argument.
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